Advent Reading: Isaiah 61:1-2 (underlined below)

Promise Made | During the decline of Israel, the Lord called Isaiah to prophesy about the coming Messiah, saying, The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor [1].

Promise Kept | In his first public act of ministry, Jesus went to the synagogue in Nazareth and spoke those words from the scroll of Isaiah. Every eye was fixed on him. Then he said, “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” [2]. In other words, “The time is fulfilled. I am the one being spoken of. My ministry is the arrival of the long-awaited kingdom of healing and salvation and freedom from oppression. God is now revealing himself as king to save and deliver and help like he never has before” [3].

Promise Meant | Yet, Jesus did not use mere words to proclaim good news to the poor and oppressed. He used his life. In heaven, the King of kings intentionally decided to come as a pauper, not a prince. Rather than choosing a wealthy family to be his own, he chose Mary and Joseph – a couple so poor that they could afford only a poor man’s sacrifice at the temple (pigeons in lieu of a lamb) [4]. Jesus did not embrace poverty and oppression, however, as a clever means to rationalize his otherwise undesirable circumstances; he embraced those values because they said something about his kingdom. His life was a testimony that God’s kingdom was not about money, power, status or celebrity; rather, it was about the riches of knowing God and the freedom of being found in Christ [5].

Prayer | Lord, In the incarnation, Jesus moved from immeasurable wealth to voluntary poverty and – ultimately – to absolute destitution on the cross [6]. And he did this for our salvation. Yet, we confess that we oftentimes seek comfort and ease without thinking too much about what our choices say about your kingdom. Forgive us and incline our hearts away from the riches of this world. Help us make different choices about how we live so that our lives – not just our words – testify to the riches of knowing you and the joy of being in your presence. Amen.

What is the non-advent reading for today? 2 Kings 18:1-8 + 2 Chron. 29:1-2 + 2 Kings 17:1-6
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Footnotes:  [1] Is. 61:1-2 ESV   |  [2] Lk. 4:18-19 ESV  |  [3] John Piper, “The Importance of the Kingdom Today.” 28 January 1990.  |  [4] See Luke 2:22-24 (Under the law, the regular sacrifice was a lamb. If a person could not afford a lamb, however, they could offer two turtledoves or two pigeons. See Leviticus 12:8). Mary and Joseph offered two turtledoves or pigeons.  |  [5] See Phil. 3.  |  [6] See 2 Cor. 8:9.